The phrase “the liberal media” might be a big lie outside of Falls Church. But not inside. Since 1991, publisher Nicholas F. Benton has made sure his Falls Church News-Press has afflicted the comfortable within the wealthy and historically conservative city’s borders.
While the rest of the reporting world has been zigging right, Benton has zagged left—and thrived: He was named 2007’s Business Person of the Year by the Falls Church city council.
“One thing I have said, ‘It’s more important to be right than to be fair,’” says Benton, an ex-seminarian and recovered Lyndon LaRouche devotee. “Liberal-minded people, well, they’re just not bold enough. I think the way to be is bold and unapologetic. The way that I have carried myself forward with my particular philosophical and political perspective is to just be out front about it, and people can deal with that. I will print all the hate mail that I get. As a businessman, I’ve found a niche, and that is to give people stories they won’t get anywhere else.”
Benton is particularly proud of the News-Press’s blanket reportage on the ongoing and increasingly ugly schism within the Falls Church—the old-line Episcopal congregation that gave the town its name—incited when the sect’s national leadership consecrated an openly gay priest. The way Benton sees it and his paper writes it, the centuries-old church has been “hijacked” in recent years by powerful pew fillers (its visitors include Alberto Gonzales and Ken Starr).
“This one dropped in our lap, and now it’s a case that’s gotten a lot of national attention,” he says. “This church is ultraconservative, and I’ve had a running battle with them for a long time. Now I’m looking for the day when somebody chains themselves to pews, and they have to call the riot police.”